How Can We Know That the God of the Bible Is the Right God to Believe In?

Last week, I shared my answer to this first question:

Is there really a God?

This week, I want to explore the next question that naturally follows:

How can we know that the God of the Bible is the right God to believe in?

If God is real — and I believe he is — how can we trust that Christianity holds the truth about our existence? Why not follow some other religion out there?

These are big questions, and whole books are devoted to explaining all the religions in the world, but all the other religions in the world can, for the most part, be summarized like this:

One, they depict humanity striving to reach God or God-like status.
Two, they describe a rather human, and even carnal, view of heaven or eternity.

Christianity is different on both counts.

In the Bible, people can’t reach God or become like him. Because God is holy, and we are not. This is why God came down to earth and took on the form of human flesh — being both fully God and fully man. Instead of us trying to reach God, God came to us. No other religion describes a God like that.

Also, in other religions, heaven is depicted in many ways, but they all sound like the kind of “heaven” that a human would think up. Here are two examples: One religion says that, after following all their rules, people will become gods of their own planets. Another religion says that, after following all their rules, men will be given dozens of virgins in heaven to sleep with. Um, okay, but that sure sounds like the kind of “heaven” that some guy came up with.

But Jesus, when asked about heaven, said something so different. He said that people won’t marry in heaven (Matthew 22:30). What? You mean there won’t be sex in heaven? Surely, if someone were making up a religion and trying to get a bunch of people to sign on, they wouldn’t describe heaven like that! Because, in human terms, that would be considered a really bad marketing plan!

So, right away, Jesus is unlike any other person or prophet who claimed to know the truths about God. Jesus said things no one else ever said, and he did things no one else ever did.

When Jesus came across the poor, he gave.
When Jesus encountered the sick, he healed.
When Jesus saw the marginalized, he included.
When Jesus heard the cries of the hungry, he fed.
And when Jesus met women the rest of the society spurned, he showed compassion.

His message for everyone was one of repentance and forgiveness, love for God and others.

That’s the kind of God I want to serve.

Jesus preached a lot of sermons and told a lot of parables, all of which are worthy of study, but there is one story in particular that stands out to me.

When most people hear about Lazarus in the Bible, they think about the man Jesus raised from the dead. But there’s another Lazarus in the Bible, too. He was poor and hungry and covered with sores. He longed to eat the scraps that fell from a rich man’s table. The Bible says…

The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’ But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. (Luke 16:22-25)

Do you know a Lazarus in your life?

Do you know someone who just never got a fair shake?

Do you know someone who suffered far more than the average soul?

There is great suffering in the world. Jesus never denied that reality. He never pretended that pain isn’t real.

So, when I think of people who have experienced tremendous hardship…
When I think of people who have endured the evil indignity of slavery…
When I think of people who have suffered the loss of a child or a spouse…
When I think of people who have had a spouse walk out on their marriage…
When I think of people, like my brother, who have lived their entire adult lives in a wheelchair…

When I think of all the heartache in this broken, sin-stained world, I think of Lazarus.

Lazarus never received any good things in this life, but now he’s spending eternity in God’s presence. His body is whole. And he has a place at the King’s table. He’s no longer hoping for a few scraps to fall from a rich man’s table.

Jesus said, “The last will be first, and the first will be last” (Matthew 20:16). So, those who are considered “last” here on this earth, like Lazarus, will be first for all eternity.

That’s the kind of God I want to serve.

Jesus turns everything around. It may not happen in this lifetime. But God sees beyond time.

The Bible says a thousand days to us is like a day to him (2 Peter 3:8), and our lives are but a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes (James 4:14).

Our suffering — though it may last a lifetime — is bound by time.

This means that pain, as we know it, has an expiration date.

We serve a God of justice. And God sees a much larger picture than we can see from our earthly finite perspective. God is watching everything, and He’s keeping an account (Ephesians 6:8).

Jesus said, “To whom much is given, from him much will be required” (Luke 12:48).

We will be held accountable for what we’ve been given. That rich man in Luke 16, who refused to use his resources to help Lazarus while they were both alive? Eventually that rich man was held accountable. It didn’t come in this lifetime. But it did come.

Because to whom much is given, much will be required. So, who we are when nobody is watching matters. Because God sees everything. Who we are when nobody is watching is who we really are.

When I study the life of Jesus, I see the kind of God I want to serve.

Whenever Jesus saw the wealthy and the powerful abuse their power, he had some strong words to say. So strong, in fact, the wealthy and the powerful used their privilege to have Jesus arrested and executed.

Then Jesus, knowing a horrific crucifixion awaited him, didn’t say, “Okay, never mind. Let’s forget the whole thing” — as if it were all a ruse. Jesus didn’t do that.

He went to the cross. Willingly. To give up his life to save mine. And yours.

That’s the kind of God I want to serve.

Shalom.

 

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Denise J. Hughes

Denise J. Hughes

Denise writes about “the quiet life.” It’s a vision for living counter-culturally in a loud and restless world. Denise lives in North Carolina with her husband and three kids.

 

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